About two years ago my wife and I were asked to move to Austin to help give leadership to an Epic Movement team there. Epic Movement is the Asian American reaching arm of Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ).
Within Texas, there currently exists only one Epic team, The Lone Star Epic Team. I can now say part of the draw to joining the team, along with the incredible staff and ministry, was being able to put The Lone Star Epic Team on a business card. No shame.
The move from Dallas to Austin was multi-layered. There were transitions not just physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. It was a changing time. So, here’s this Lone Star team that is based in Austin, who currently has movements at not just the University of Texas, but 3 other major universities across the state. And that’s not all folks, this team’s scope is Texas.
Needless to say, it was a huge privilege to be asked to help lead the team, but looking back, I realize there was also a lot of pride. Have you ever seen the show, “Kitchen Nightmares” with Gordon Ramsay? I think my attitude was similar to the concept of that show. In short, there was a failing restaurant that needed some sort of miraculous change or it was going to close. Gordon Ramsay comes in, and basically encourages and chews out (mostly chews out) the staff and makes the necessary changes to get them up and running again. Gordon Ramsay plays the “messiah” figure on the show. He saves the day. That’s what I thought I would do.
Save the Day… Or Maybe Not
I thought, with fewer curse words, I was going to come in and save the day for our team and our movements. And to note, our team, and our movements, weren’t in a place that they needed “saving” at all, but I was too busy enjoying standing with my cape in the wind to notice.
Within the first few staff meetings, meetings with our student leaders, looking at our scope, reality starts to set in. And by reality, I mean panic. I distinctly remember sitting in some of those meetings and thinking, “Umm… I have no idea what to do.” My focus was on fixing tasks, saving the day, trying to come up with the perfect structure to gift wrap to others on what they should do.
“Gosh, you sound like a poor guy to lead any ministry team!” I was and am! Praise the Lord for Jesus Christ, the True Messiah! The Lord quickly humbled me within what was one of my most difficult years of ministry. Running on my own power I experienced anxiety like never before. The Lord has graciously allowed me to see the sin of pride in my life, and by His grace, I’ve sought to confess and repent when that heart attitude starts to creep in.
Recently I had the opportunity to speak at our weekly meeting on John 13, the famous passage of Jesus, the night of his betrayal, lowering himself to wash the disciples’ feet. Something I’ve been introduced to over the past year is the concept of power. It’s a complex subject without a lot of room here to discuss, but by definition power is “the ability to act.” It’s not a reflection of a person’s worth, but if we talked about it more you would be able to notice the dynamics in your life and groups almost immediately.
When Gordon Ramsay walks into a kitchen, he has power. He’s part of the majority culture, highly experienced, incredibly talented, and the list goes on. No matter what kitchen he walks into, most people are ready to defer to him for what they should do next. When Jesus lowered himself in the upper room before the Passover Meal, he stewarded his power in a different way. Instead of asking the disciples to wash his feet, Jesus, the Son of God, takes the place of a lowly servant and washes in-between the dirty filthy toes of his closest friends.
As I’m sitting in meetings now, whether it’s with staff or our leadership students, I’ve found rest trusting in Christ as the Messiah, and not myself. It’s freed me to use my power as a leader on our team to not just not try and fix everything, but also to empower those around me. It’s helped me to ask more questions and speak sincere belief in my fellow co-laborers as we come up with a plan together. It’s helped me be more OK in the ambiguity.
I’m still a work in process, but I’m thankful for the work the Lord is doing and will complete in me at His return.
Vinnie Casanova helps lead the Lone Star Epic Team in Austin, TX. Vinnie is blessed to be married to the godliest woman he knows, Kimberly Casanova. Vinnie is also blessed to be a father to the cutest baby in the world, Clara Casanova. He has been on staff with Cru since 2007. He’s passionate about running, drinking good coffee, teaching God’s Word, and developing leaders who want to see The Great Commission fulfilled in their generation. For more information on Epic Movement visit: www.epicmovement.com. To contact Vinnie, email firstname.lastname@example.org.